• Reuters reports that COVAX is planning to change its vaccine allocation system after providing the UK with over half a million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in March – even as the country led the world in vaccination rates, and while it only sent 20,000 doses to Botswana, which was planning to start its vaccination campaign. Allocations to other low-income countries, such as Rwanda, Togo and Libya, were given far fewer doses than the UK (100,00 to Rwanda and Togo; 55,000 to Libya).
COVAX has been allocating doses proportionally, by a country’s population size – regardless of their vaccination coverage, a methodology that favors rich nations (including Brussels, Canada, the UK and the US) who have deals with pharmaceutical companies, rather than prioritizing countries with vaccines. According to internal document from Gavi, which co-leads COVAX with WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness, the new allocation methodology will include the proportion of a country’s population that has already been vaccinated, including with vaccines purchased directly from pharmaceutical companies. Gavi’s board plans to discuss the proposal, which could be enacted during Q4 of 2021. Source
• Researchers from Oxford University report on COVID-19’s impact on life expectancy in 29 countries, including Chile, most of Europe, and the US. They found that life expectancy – which has consistently increased in most countries during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries – decreased in 27 countries during 2020, a loss described by the authors as being “…of a magnitude not witnessed since World War II.” In Belgium, Chile, England & Wales, Spain and Slovenia, both males and females lost more than one year of life expectancy; in contrast, the smallest losses were reported in Denmark and Norway. Source
• Gladys Berejiklian, premier of the state of New South Wales, announced that Sydney’s five million residents will begin to emerge from a three-month lockdown on 11 October, when it is expected that 70 percent of people over age 16 will be fully vaccinated. If vaccination milestones continue to be reached, gradual easing of restrictions will continue, with the aim of achieving normality in December. Source
• Within days of a pronouncement that the world would return to normal in a year from Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, Pfizer ‘s CEO, Albert Bourla, predicted a return to normality within the same timeframe, adding “I don’t think that means that this means we should be able to live our lives without vaccinations, basically, the most likely scenario to me is that because the virus is spread all over the world, we will continue to see new variants that are coming out, and we will continue to have vaccines that will last at least a year,” Source
• The US announces that it will open to vaccinated travelers in November, although noncitizens must have received a vaccine that approved for emergency use by the US FDA or WHO (Johnson and Johnson, Moderna, Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Sinopharm and Sinovac). The list does not include Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, which has not been approved by the US FDA or WHO, which suspended its review of the vaccine due to concerns about Russia’s manufacturing practices.
Sputnik V’s backer, the Russian Direct Investment Fund, stated that it has “been approved in 70 countries where over 4 billion people, or over half of the world’s population, live, but its efficacy and safety have been confirmed both during clinical trials and over the course of real-world use in a number of countries,” noting that a “number of ‘Big Pharma’ companies intentionally, as a matter of competitive rivalry, are attempting to restrict Sputnik and absorb markets.” Source
• The Economist reports that COVID-19 deaths are falling in thigh-income countries such as the UK, where they have decreased by 95 percent since January 2021, an in the EU, where excess deaths have fallen by 90 percent since they peaked in November 20202. The US is an outlier; according to the Economist’s excess-deaths model, which estimates the difference between the actual number of deaths versus the expected number of deaths during a certain timeframe, suggests that 2,800 people are dying each day in America – a rate that is eight times higher than that among other rich countries. Source
• US President Joe Biden receives a booster dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, using the occasion to urge unvaccinated people to get their shots. Source
• Pfizer issues a press release announcing the launch of a 2,660-peron, global, randomized, placebo-controlled phase II/III trial of PF-07321332, a ritonavir-boosted protease inhibitor, as post-exposure prophylaxis for COVID-19 in people who share a household with someone who has confirmed, symptomatic COVID-19. Source